What is the CMA?
What is the Compost Manufacturing Alliance (CMA) and why does it matter? We already have testing standards like BPI in place, is CMA the same thing? If you’re a composter, it is crucial to understand the value that CMA approvals provide because the compostables industry is only getting bigger and more important as time goes on.
What does the CMA do, exactly?
First, who are they, and what do they do? CMA is a group whose aim is to provide real world testing of compostable products in compost facilities. Called “field disintegration testing,” they take compostable materials (like EcoSafe® compostable bags) and put them to the test in an actual composting facility to make sure they disintegrate as intended within an acceptable time frame. This shows composters that accepting compostable materials marked with a CMA approval will not result in any contamination to their end product.
How is CMA different from BPI?
In North America, BPI certification is a standard certification that companies use to show that their products adhere to a standard set of technical requirements for composition and degredation. In our industry, products must adhere to ASTM D6400 testing standards which outlines the conditions and timeframe within which a product must degrade in order to obtain BPI certification. This testing is done in a laboratory environment which means that the results are as consistent as possible between tests.
Although BPI is a very important certification, issues arise when you consider the variability of real-world testing. The biggest variable being that there are several different ways a commercial composter can operate. The most prominent ones are:
- Aerated static pile
How to tell if an item is CMA approved
Identification of compostable items is extremely important. Every composter has a system in place to remove contamination (non-compostable items) from the material they receive. If a compostable item can’t be easily identified, it is likely that it will be removed and sent to landfill. This eliminates a major benefit of using compostable items.
What is does the future of composting look like with CMA?
As the CMA’s presence becomes more understood and accepted throughout North America, a few things are likely to happen:
- More composters will see for themselves that products marked with a CMA logo will disintegrate in their system just like other organic materials do.
- Less contamination will be seen in the feedstock they receive because compostable bags and products will replace the plastic alternatives that are often used.
- As composting becomes easier with compostable products, the percentage of organic materials that are sent to composters (instead of landfill) will increase.
- Legislation is likely to follow. With the support of composters who like having less contamination, the support of the consumers who are looking for the easiest way to do the right thing, and the clear benefits of having less organic waste sent to landfill, governments will be able to safely support compostables.
In conclusion – CMA approval is good for everyone
Whether you’re a composter, consumer, legislator, or environmentalist, compostable products will help you ensure that less organic waste ends up in landfills. That is an undisputed benefit for the environment. The CMA, and real-world field testing is an important part of that goal. That is why every EcoSafe product is approved in every available CMA category, and why we have been avid supporters of the CMA since it’s inception.
If you have questions about our products or CMA approvals, reach out to us and we’ll be happy to answer them for you.